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SIL celebrated
International Literacy Day 2002 at the UN

On September 5, 2002, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in cooperation with the International Literacy Network (ILN) hosted a celebration of International Literacy Day. SIL International, as a member of ILN, joined in the event at the UN in New York. The International Literacy Day event focused on the critical need to ensure gains in literacy among people marginalized by ethnicity, language, gender, and/or religion. The theme for this year’s International Literacy Day was Literacy for Diversity: Voices of Resilience.

SIL Literacy Consultant Joan Bomberger

SIL International was represented in the International Literacy Day event at the UN by

  • Pat Kelley – International Literacy Coordinator,
  • Susan and Dennis Malone – Literacy Consultants with experience in Pacific and Asia,
  • Joan Bomberger – Literacy Consultant with experience in Africa,
  • Alan MacDonald – Director of International Relations, and Samantha Custer, a member of his staff.

SIL Literacy Consultant Joan Bomberger in the main meeting hall for the event where approximately 500 participants gathered for the leaders' Roundtable.

They attended the special luncheon program “Reflections on September 11” and participated in several roundtables during the event.

SIL International Literacy Coordinator, Pat Kelley

SIL International Literacy Coordinator, Pat Kelley admired this mosaic tribute illustrating literacy. Children from around the world responded to Sept 11. They drew pictures and wrote messages which a professional Japanese artist compiled into an exhibit that covers several walls just inside the UN visitor's entrance.

Mosaic Detail on the mosaic.

Four moderated roundtable discussions focused on specific perspectives: Families and Literacy, Gender, and Conflict. SIL Asia Area Literacy Coordinator, Susan Malone, moderated the roundtable on Language/Ethnicity.


The Mongolian Ambassador to the UN, Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan leading a discussion with leaders from UNESCO, IRA, World Bank, U.S. Dept. of Education, and VALUE (an adult literacy organization).

During the event, the Adult Education Division of the Eritrean Ministry of Education received the International Reading Association Prize for their efforts during wartime to meet the literacy needs of women, ethnic groups and demobilized soldiers. SIL International often has the privilege of being called upon to work with other non-government organizations and government agencies in a consultancy capacity. The Ministry of Education of Eritrea is one such example. Currently several SIL literacy personnel are assisting in a project training and consultant role. SIL International congratulates the Ministry of Education of Eritrea on their well earned UNESCO award.

SIL International recognizes that literacy is a key that unlocks a whole world of information and communication options. Literacy is a right. As such, it can be a key for communities around the world, marginalized by their language or ethnicity, to give them voice and to help disarm some of the forces behind much of the civil conflict they have experienced that has battered the early years of this century.

Article contributed by Pat Kelley, International Literacy Coordinator, SIL International